Persuasive Signs: The Semiotics of Advertising

Persuasive Signs: The Semiotics of Advertising

Persuasive Signs: The Semiotics of Advertising

Persuasive Signs: The Semiotics of Advertising

Synopsis

"Using both verbal and nonverbal techniques to make its messages as persuasive as possible, advertising has become an integral component of modern-day social discourse designed to influence attitudes and lifestyle behaviors by covertly suggesting how we can best satisfy our innermost urges and aspirations through consumption. This book looks at the categories of this form of discourse from the standpoint of semiotic analysis. It deals with the signifying processes that underlie advertising messages in print, electronic, and digital form." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

The messages of advertisers are everywhere. They are on billboards, on the radio, on television, on buses and subways, in magazines and newspapers, on flyers, on clothes, shoes, hats, pens, and the list could go on and on. To say that advertising has become a ubiquitous form of mass communication in today's [global culture] is an understatement. Using both verbal and nonverbal techniques to make its messages as persuasive as possible, advertising has become an integral category of modern-day social discourse designed to influence attitudes and lifestyle behaviors by covertly suggesting how we can best satisfy our innermost urges and aspirations through consumption. As the American author E. B. White (1899–1985) aptly observed, in 1936, in a New Yorker article (11 July): [Advertisers are the interpreters of our dreams - Joseph interpreting for Pharaoh. Like the movies, they infect the routine futility of our days with purposeful adventure. Their weapons are our weaknesses: fear, ambition, illness, pride, selfishness, desire, ignorance. And these weapons must be kept as bright as a sword.]

Given its obvious importance to understanding modern forms of expression, representation, and communication, it is little wonder that advertising has come under the microscopes of virtually all the cognitive and social sciences over the last fifty or so years. Indeed, the number of articles, books, and websites devoted to the critique, analysis, and/or discussion of advertising has become truly mindboggling. The field of semiotics, too, has been extremely active in stimulating interest among semioticians, advertisers, and the public at large in the various signifying aspects of advertising. So, another semiotic work on this [over-studied] topic would seem to be needless, if not irrelevant, to increasing our understanding of advertising as a form of persuasive rhetoric. But, a closer look at the vast literature in this domain reveals that there exist, surprisingly, very few indepth treatments of the actual persuasion techniques employed by the advertising profession to generate its ever-elusive meanings. And, to the best of our knowledge, few textbook treatments of advertising from the semiotic perspective - if any - are currently available. By . . .

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